The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 issued by the Ministry of Women and Child Development came into effect on Friday. The Act makes it illegal to give children any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drug, tobacco products or psychotropic substances. Giving children any of these products will now be considered an offence, unless directed to do so by a qualified medical practitioner.

The amendments made to Section 77 of the Act makes giving children any of these substances punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to seven years. Violators may also be fined up to Rs 1 lakh.

According to Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, a professor and surgeon at Mumbai's Tata Memorial Hospital, nearly 27.5 crore Indians consume tobacco, with a majority of them getting into the habit in their childhood. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey by the World Health Organisation revealed that the age of initiation of tobacco habits among Indians is 17 years. “With this act, India has become the only nation in the world to impose such a harsh penalty for selling to minors and selling by minors,” he said.